Walking on Ice

by Rebecca Smith

I live in Minneapolis, and I’m writing this on February 3, 2009.  It’s been cold here.  Really cold.  Like the coldest weather you can possibly imagine living in, by which I mean the coldest weather you can possibly imagine living in without it killing you as soon as you step out into it.  It’s almost never 27 degrees below zero, but sometimes it is.

When it’s that cold for that long, there is ice everywhere-or at least the great likelihood of ice.  I live in a Mary Tyler Moore type house high on a hill about two blocks from the actual Mary Tyler Moore house.  I have dozens of potentially icy stairs, several yards of potentially icy pavement, and usually about 10 feet of perpetually icy, snow-slicked road surface between me and my car.

As a result, I’m really good at walking on ice.

It’s a real consciousness-heightening experience too.  The likelihood of slipperiness makes you really have to pay attention to literally every placement of your foot.  Now add some high heels to that picture, and you’ve got a daily practice that requires extreme focus.

Somehow, right in the middle of this months-long cold snap, we had a 48 degree day.  The sun was bright, ice and snow melted, and while I didn’t see any convertibles with their tops down, I did see some open sunroofs.  In the late afternoon I decided to walk about a block to the mailbox on the corner.  As I looked around me, marveling at the balmy temperature and how much melting had occurred in such a short time, I hit a patch of ice with my right foot and took what felt like a slow motion body slam to the pavement.

So what’s my big insight?

When times are challenging, like they are in the bitter-cold-ice-covered world of my Minneapolis winter, my consciousness is heightened.  I move forward with great focus.  When everything’s going along swimmingly, I abandon my focus, relax my consciousness and take a header to the pavement.

But there’s more here than just a cautionary tale.  I don’t want this to teach the lesson, “Pay attention, kids; it’s a dangerous world out there no matter how good you feel!”   I want this to be more uplifting than that.  I want it to be some version of, “You’re going to make it after all,” and then for every reader to throw his or her beret’ into the air.

I want this to be about allowing the wake-up call to really wake me up, but in the future I want to allow the wake-up call to come without pain.  I want to believe with all my heart that enlightenment doesn’t have to come through a year-long depression, a cancerous attack on my pancreas or my untimely crucifixion.  Nobody finds fault with the person who eventually wants to die in his sleep-to just die peacefully and never wake up.  So what’s so wrong about me wanting to become enlightened in my sleep?  I just want to experience enlightenment and never wake up from it-let it just take hold and that’s that.

But I’m a Minnesotan, and was raised Lutheran to boot, so I don’t see that happening any time soon.  While it’s pretty deeply imbedded in me that literally anything is possible, I think it’s equally deeply imbedded in me that everything comes at a cost.  The more seemingly impossible the accomplishment, the higher the price I have to pay for it.

Byron Katie would ask me, “Rebecca, who would you be without that thought?”  And I’d think about it for a while, and maybe cry a little before I finally answered her, “Well, Miss Katie, I guess I’d be a person who’s fully capable of receiving all the love that’s offered to me and of amplifying it 10 fold before sending it back out.  I wouldn’t have any blocks to fully experiencing people.  I wouldn’t have any blocks to fully experiencing God.  I could just give and receive with complete freedom.”  “Nice work, Rebecca,” she’d say.

But the question remains, can I go there?  Today I’m glad that at least I know where I’m pointed.

“I am completely receptive to the Love of God and all beings.  I am a fearless giver of Love to God and all beings.”  And I’m going to make it afterall.

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